Hua Chunying (Photo: China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
China on Thursday urged the United States to stop hyping up the South China Sea issue, after US Defense Secretary James Mattis said the United States would continue to confront China on militarization of islands in the South China Sea.
"Hyping up militarization in the South China Sea by some people in the US is quite preposterous, just like a thief crying 'stop thief'," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a daily press briefing.
She said that the military forces deployed by the United States far exceed those combined by China and other coastal countries in the South China Sea.
"China is not the first country or the one deploying the largest amount of weapons in the South China Sea, nor is it the most militarily active country in the region," Hua said. "So who is pushing 'militarization' in the South China Sea? The answer is quite clear."
She said it is legitimate and justified for China to deploy necessary and limited national defense facilities on its own islands and reefs, as it is exercising its self-defense right as endowed by the international law.
"China adopts a national defense policy that is defensive in nature, and we will not attack others unless we are attacked," Hua said.
She called on the United States to abandon meaningless hype and do more things conducive to mutual trust, cooperation, and regional peace and stability.
In response to the US move to rename Pacific Command to US Indo-Pacific Command, Hua called on the United States to act responsibly in the Asia Pacific region no matter how the name is changed, and to play a constructive role in regional peace and stability.